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GSMA bats for free flow of data, says restrictions will create islands of information

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: February 24, 2019  | 16:42 IST

By Prasoon Srivastava Barcelona (PTI) The creation of data protection regime in India and other countries across the globe is good but governments should also ensure free flow of data and not create islands of information, according to global telecom industry body GSMA. "It's (data protection regime) good because we have been effecting societies to increasing degrees with everything getting connected. In a couple of years time, we are going to have over a billion IoT (Internet of Things) connections over cellular. Beyond cellular, we are going to have 20 billion connections," GSMA Director General Mats Granryd told PTI in an interview here. According to GSMA intelligence report, 79 mobile operators have announced plans to launch 5G services and more than 50 countries, including India, are set to benefit from it before the end of 2020. Another report from the GSMA intelligence estimates that there will be 25 billion IoT connections by 2025. Granryd said that soon consumers will have to pay premium for products that does not has an internet connection where technology companies need to be mindful on how they secure networks. "How do we make sure that networks have high degree of integrity and we can protect your identity and I think GDPR is one of those clear examples. That is now being moved into other parts of the world. Now, India is looking to adopt something similar which I think is fine," he said. GSMA had made provision of digital declaration which is similar to data protection rules at some higher level, with an objective that companies should act ethically online. He said telecom operators and their vendors have been working on data protection since long time and internet companies like Google and Facebook have started to work on it. Granryd said globally telecom companies should be regulated at par with internet firms they are planning to move beyond providing just connectivity to adopt data-centric business model with "intelligent connectivity" with 5G coming in. He said India is the only country that has announced to gradually end mobile call termination rates -- a move that will end price arbitrage between online players providing calling and messaging service and telecom operators but called for a level-playing field in terms of regulation for same set of services. "India is one in that area (make interconnection charges nil from 2020). We need to be treating everyone with same type of charges. I think interconnection between various services will ultimately be reduced," Granryd said. He played down the tussle between telecom operators and internet firms around adverse impact on their businesses. "We have good relationships with all (internet companies) of them. That was not the case if you go back 10 years. We have mutual respect. One issue that remains is level playing where we are arguing that for equivalent digital services legislation should be the same. That's less towards the internet companies but may be more towards regulators," Granryd said. Telecom operators have been demanding same rules for same set of services. While telcos are required to abide by all local laws, pay charges for connecting calls on other networks, facilitate lawful interception and monitoring of communications from their network etc, online companies providing calling and messaging services are not bound by these laws. "Remember, we are heavy regulated but OTT players are not, but we are not arguing that they should be heavily regulated as we are but we need a balance. We can have less regulations or it should be same," Granryd said. PTI PRS MKJ

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